Sydney outlines roadmap out of lockdown

Australia's biggest city Sydney announced plans on Thursday to ease lockdown restrictions from mid-October.

That's when authorities expect 70% of adults in New South Wales to have received two doses of vaccine.

Only then will Sydney's cafes, restaurants and pubs be allowed to reopen.

Stay-at-home orders for the fully vaccinated will also be lifted on the Monday after the vaccine target has been reached.

The plans come as daily infections linger near record levels in New South Wales.

The state registered more than 1,400 new local cases on Thursday and five more deaths.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned that cases would rise further when restrictions are eased:

"I want to stress that whilst today the New South Wales government is outlining our plan, our roadmap for the way forward in New South Wales, that we're definitely not out of the woods. We know that case numbers are likely to peak in the next week or so, and we also know that our hospital system will be under the greatest stress in October."

Like the rest of Australia, the state had pursued a COVID zero strategy to quell an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant that began in mid-June.

Now the focus has shifted to increasing inoculation rates and providing certainty for businesses.

Lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne have threatened to push Australia's economy into its second recession in as many years.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday the reopening efforts of New South Wales aligned with the national plan outlined in July.

He urged state leaders to 'hold their nerve' when they begin to live with the virus.

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